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1.2 million Chinese students have gone abroad to study, making China the country with the most students abroad. About one quarter of them have returned to China to work or start their own businesses. Many accepted Jesus while studying abroad and a good number have returned with the intention to share their faith. We pray for them and their families because they need lots of psychological and spiritual preparation for their return and in order to continue to serve faithfully.
People and freight have been able to cross the Taiwan Strait directly through 3 ports for a while now. But far more Taiwanese have entered China than Mainland Chinese have gone to Taiwan. This trend is supposed to continue as direct commercial flights and tourism will take place soon. We pray that churches on both sides will benefit from this historic opening of travel. Taiwan churches have been helping Mainland churches, but we hope to see God use the Mainland believers be of great encouragement to the Taiwan churches as well.
Textile, shoes, clothing and toys make up the majority of Made in China exports. However, these industries are facing severe setbacks because of WTO-imposed tariffs, anti-dumping, appreciation of yuan and the rise of material costs. The sense of economic boom may be leveling off as the economy cools. Let us pray for renewed trust in the Lord and a heart of thanksgiving and cheerful giving for all believers.
There has been a substantial improvement in the Sino-Japanese relationship in the past year. Both sides have managed to resolve the long-standing dispute of the territorial water and future below-sea oil-fields exploration. Anti-Japanese sentiment has decreased significantly. Very few Chinese churches ever consider Japan as a mission field, despite Japan's proximity and it being the least evangelized nation. Let us pray for true forgiveness to overcome deep-seated hatred from WWII and true love for the people of Japan.
Many of the churches in China have the anti-intellectual tendency, even considering any formal theological training as a waste. These same churches tend to avoid interacting with the community and culture in general and regard themselves as far more spiritual than others. Distrust and even outright pride exist among many Chinese churches. It is unfortunate that traditions and petty differences in theology divide believers. Let us pray for true humility and acceptance of each others.
With the recent improvement of relationship with Japan and Taiwan, Beijing is riding high in its role of leadership in the Asian countries. The upcoming Games have also propelled China to her long-coveted position as the center stage of East Asia. Not surprisingly, Chinese believers also feel extremely proud of their country, and are also praying that restrictions on church meeting will cease. We praise the Lord as believers are able to pray for leaders in all levels and gaining favors of the officials.
The total of dead and missing is over 80,000 in the recent earthquake, and students probably account for over 10,000 of that number. Many "tent schools" are providing education on a temporary basis. Permanent reconstruction will take several years. Parental frustration and accusation of high casualties of students have led to growing protest.There are probably more Christian workers now in this area than ever before in history.We pray Sichuan will become a fertile soil for the Gospel and churches there will be healthier and stronger.